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The Burning of Witches Will Continue

Americans who once venerated self-reliance are building a church of conformity, whose chief means of worship is destroying heretics. Elon Musk should tell the priesthood to shove it

The parochial snobbery of these people was partly responsible for their failure to convert the Indians… Very few Indians were converted, and the Salem folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil's last preserve, his home base and the citadel of his final stand. To the best of their knowledge the American forest was the last place on earth that was not paying homage to God.

— Arthur Miller, The Crucible

We burn witches in America. When heathens won’t convert, when the crop is bad, we still burn the village freethinker.

The Federal Trade Commission last week told The Hill it was “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” adding, “no CEO… is above the law,” clearly referring to the company’s despised new owner, billionaire Elon Musk.

Musk is the new bête noire of the American consensus. He is the Negative Current Thing, a role mostly played by Donald Trump since summer 2015, with occasional fill-ins (in no particular order, Vladimir Putin, Tucker Carlson, Novak Djokovic, J.K. Rowling, Jeremy Corbyn, Joe Rogan, Dave Chappelle, whatever they call Kanye West these days, and others have manned the slot). The coverage playbook for these heel-of-the-hour stories is rigid. Certain elements are always present.